This is my personal blog and does not necessarily reflect the collective views of Hard Limits Press

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Bellingham Diaries

Inspired by a recent discussion in the comments, I've decided to give you all the best of my journal entries. I wrote most of these over my last year in Bellingham, WA. They haven't been edited.

I read this to my mother and she smiled and said, "that's the Irish in you."


My mother sat on the couch in her underwear this morning and told me about how the clinic sent her another woman's report. The report suggested that this other, phantasmal Mc**** had cancer. I get to keep my mother, this frail bodied, steel souled woman a little longer.

Make no mistake, my mother is hard. Thin limbs recall the gangly child, high cheekbones and slender fingers evoke what I have come to think of as her spirit animal, the blue heron. Her flesh, however, even in her mid fifties is smoothed over muscle even I don't have at twenty eight.

Whenever I visit she tells me stories, and I realize that I have been wrong about her my whole life. I was sure she didn't care. Now she tells me about early labor, that damnable sense of feminine politeness, that kept her from asking for a seat on the bus at seven months pregnant.

She still cries when she tells that story, and now I hear what is unspoken as clearly as a single note struck on a tuning fork; what would have happened, if I'd demanded a spot? Did I curse you, make you what you are, ensure you came out half baked and part faerie because I couldn't assert myself?

My grandmother was like putty in dementia's withered hands by the time she was seventy five. My mother is only fifty six, but the specter of spooning pudding in to her mother in law's slack mouth still walks beside her, my mother's version of my impassive shadow-man.

It amazes me, the amount of pain humans shoulder every day. I still think grief is the strongest human emotion, love and sorrow together.

Sometimes, though, death is a transformation. As parts of my life fall away and change, I rise again from the grave. The life of a shaman is nothing but a series of deaths and the empowerment and lessons that result.

Portland. Seattle. My big beautiful dirty glittering cities, my depthless, bottle-green sea.


  1. Incredible post, Tiger. It immediately calls up for me the feelings and observations I have watching my father fading in my care.

  2. Mdal,

    Thank you so much. I am sorry to hear about your father. I visited my grandmother once a week until she died, and I often felt that she wanted to communicate with me so badly, even when she was very ill. I know it sounds trite, but I will think good thoughts for your dad.